Beckham's quest for Miami soccer all hinges on voters in November

Ballot question could fast-track plan to build at city-owned golf course

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor, Glenna Milberg - Reporter

MIAMI - David Beckham has been on a five-year quest to bring major league soccer to Miami, but the fate of the the billion-dollar project is now up to city voters. 

They will decide next month whether to waive city rules so that Beckham's ownership group – which includes billionaire businessman Jorge Mas -- can build a billion-dollar complex at the site of the city-owned Melreese County Club without a competitive bidding process.

Beckman and Mas, the CEO of the construction company MasTech, are confident that voters will approve the measure.

"I've always believed in the project. That's why, for me, I never gave up. I knew Miami was the city," Beckham said.

Plans for Miami Freedom Park call for not just a soccer stadium, but retail stores, office space, an entertainment venue and more. The ownership is promising the city about $3.5 million in annual rent.

Those opposed to the project call it a real estate takeover of public green space and said that too few of the plan details have been made public.

People who live near the land also said they fear increased traffic and congestion. 

If a majority of Miami voters agree to waive city competitive bidding rules, the Miami Freedom Park plan will require more negotiation before the City Commission gives its final approval.

This is how the question will appear on the November ballot:

Proposed Charter Amendment for the Lease and development of a soccer stadium and commercial complex.

Shall Miami's Charter be amended authorizing City to negotiate and execute 99-year lease with Miami Freedom Park LLC, for approximately 73 acres of City land, waiving bidding, converting Melreese Country Club (1400 Northwest 37 Avenue) at no cost to city to:

  • soccer stadium;
  • minimum 1,000,000 square feet of office, retail, and commercial uses;
  • minimum 750 hotel rooms;
  • $3,577,365 minimum annual rent;
  • $20,000,000 for 58-acre public park or other green space?

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